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NUGENT SET TO RUN FOR NEW HOUSE DISTRICT

It's official: U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent wants two more years. Instead of running in the 5th District, however, the Spring Hill Republican will run in the proposed 11th District, which now includes all of Hernando, Citrus and Sumter counties and portions of Marion and Lake counties, according to draft maps that are up for a legislative committee vote today. That could pit Nugent against U.S. Rep Cliff Stearns, an Ocala Republican. But it was unclear late Thursday what Stearns' plans might be. The 5th District race had drawn three no-party challengers, but two of those candidates - John Russell of Dade City and Eileen Fleming of Clermont - are not in either the proposed 5th or the 11th districts. The third, Ray Bruce Riggs of Crystal River, is in the 11th District, and so is David Werder, a Spring Hill resident who has prefiled as a Democrat.

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COUNTYWIDE

Forestry center: wildfire risk high

The Withlacoochee Forestry Center is warning residents of the threat of wildfires resulting from the warm and dry weather, combined with recent hard freezes. Although there are currently no burn bans in effect, those who burn yard waste and debris on their property are advised to make sure they are familiar with state, county and municipal burning laws and to follow safe burning practices. Also, those who notice any suspicious activity are asked to call their local fire department or the arson alert phone number, toll-free at 1-800-342-5869. For information or advice about safe burning practices, call wildfire mitigation specialist Don Ruths at (352) 754-6777, ext. 119.

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SPRING HILL

Preserve plans a sparrow drive

A sparrow drive is planned for Feb. 4 in the Weekiwachee Preserve, 2345 Osowaw Blvd. This will be an opportunity to get up close with Henslow's, Le Conte's, grasshopper and other winter sparrows during the banding process. There is no cost to participate. For the meeting time and location, call Marianne Korosy at (727) 772-7584. Visit the website at swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/areas/weekiwachee.html.

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